True Colours

Black and white BW B&W Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street photography

Compassion

The road from left to right is James Street North to James South, and James is the demarcation between western Hamilton and Eastern Hamilton and the neighbourhoods of Central and Beasley. The oncoming traffic is moving from King Street East to King West. As the two women in the picture were on the Central side of James, I associate this image with the Central series of Hammer Home.

The traffic light had changed, making it legal for the pedestrians to cross King. I watched a hoard of citizens make their may across in both directions just in time for the light signals to switch back and direct vehicular traffic through the intersection; probably the busiest in the city. I noticed this one elderly lady; however, with an obvious physical impairment having difficulty getting across on her own. She simply wasn’t going to get across in time, and sure enough the lights turned green for the cars. Straggler or no, the one way traffic began moving into the crosswalk like animals functioning purely by instinct.

Out of the right corner of my eye, I spotted the pedestrian who had already made it safely to the south side but had stopped to watch the physically challenged woman who had fallen behind. I knew what was going to happen next, and despite the guilt I felt for not rushing out there to help the periled woman myself, I raised my camera to my face while conscious of a number of other onlookers watching me with the camera and the situation unfolding before us all. I began shooting.

As I pressed the shutter release button, it was clear to me that these two soles out in the street did not know each other from Adam. There before my cynical eyes; nevertheless, was a total and complete stranger with genuine concern for another braving the oncoming rush hour traffic to help the other get safely to the south side of King Street.

This is the best shot I took of the moment. The Good Samaritan approaching from the right, braving the danger as she extends her hands to take hold of the walking aid. I’m very proud of this shot. It’s one of my personal favourite photographs of this project, and I especially enjoy looking at it enlarged. I don’t get to shoot situations like this often. Such occurrences are few and far between in my world. When I am granted the opportunity to witness one of these acts of compassion though, I try not to squander it.

I want this picture to be one of life’s special reminders to all of us self-absorbed cynics that compassion is still alive in our species, and that the number of such acts of decency can increase if we all dedicate ourselves to helping each other in times of need, even when we’re strangers. Not just stay back and wait to see if all hell breaks loose or if someone else steps forward to save the day.

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10 thoughts on “True Colours

    • Since taking this shot, I’ve seen more random acts of kindness around town but I’ve either not had a camera ready to photograph them or someone steps into my line of sight when I’m shooting and I lose the opportunities. I those situations, I’m amongst a crowd of citizens hastily moving in all directions.

      I’m going to work harder at capturing these moments. I have to improve my reaction time in such situations.

      • There I feel again. You have to be quick, and have a good camera. A fast camera. Which I myself do not have. Therefore, many of my streetphoto is blurry. But…that’s life. I can’t afford an expensive camera. I am pleased with the feeling in the picture. Goes a long way.

  1. Beautiful shot. Perfectly timed. I’m sure the person helping the elderly didn’t think twice about it. Don’t think they wanted her to be alone in the middle of such a busy intersection too. Wonder were the vehicles honking? Hopefully not. There’s still good in this world.

    • No honking, fortunately. They all slowed to a stop but our drivers are still quite impatient, and exude an extremely heightened sense of self-entitlement. I wouldn’t doubt if at least some of them started cursing under their breaths for the holdup. It’s a me, me, me, me world!

  2. Pingback: Danger: No Nukes 1982 | What's (in) the picture?

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